Tiny microheaters that can prompt chemical changes in surrounding material may provide the means to more easily grow replacement tissue for injured patients and form the basis for medical sensors that could quickly detect pathogens, according to researchers at the University of Washington who are the first to demonstrate the process.
The key to the technique, according to Associate Professor Karl Böhringer in the UWs Department of Electrical Engineering, lies in temperature-driven changes in the material with which the less-than-one-millimeter-wide electric heaters are coated. Proteins stick to the material as its temperature rises, and release when it goes back down. That, according to Böhringer, opens the door to a wide array of possibilities.
"The proteins stick locally to the areas we heat, and we can stick cells to the proteins," he said. "This provides a relatively simple, low cost way of creating cell chips to run experiments and to create other useful devices."
Rob Harrill | EurekAlert!
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